RPGaDay: Unusual locations to play

Today, on day 27 of RPGaDay, we answer: Describe the most unusual circumstance or location in which you have gamed. RPGaDay is hosted by BrigadeCon this year.

RPGaDay 2016

The strangest location I’ve ever played a game was on a stage in front of an audience. When did this happen? In April 2016 during Capital Gaming Expo.

I was contact by the organizers of the event to be co-GM to a celebrity. One of my friends, Jason Pitre, was an organizer of the convention and suggested me as a good candidate. The celebrity GM was the legendary Ed Greenwood, the creator of the Forgotten Realms. He was going to run an adventure for lucky group of donors through Skype. The need an assistant who knew the rules of the game system, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition, and would be able to take over as GM if there was technical difficulties.

I found it fascinating experience. I had met and spoken to Ed before either randomly or through interviews for the Tome Show Book Club. I never actually played with him before. Also, I was on the stage with others which was interesting experience to have.

We got a small crowd in the audience. I answered rules questions from players. We even had one player who never played a rpg before and was a fan of Ed Greenwood’s books. Most players had never played AD&D 2nd and I gave them a quick overview. The game didn’t require a detailed lesson of the game. Ed likes to run his game light and this event was just 2 hour long.

Luckily, there were no technical difficulties with the Skype connection. Ed managed to run a wonderful game and kept the action flowing. It was fascinating seeing him work. Due to the short time slot, the adventure had to be linear and one of the players was great of jumping and leading the party on this adventure.

What wonderful and unusual times have you gamed before?

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RPGaDay: Hobbies match

On day 26 of RPGaDay, hosted by BrigadeCon, the question was: What hobbies go well with RPGs?

RPGaDay 2016

As rpgs are a creative pursuit, they go well with other creative hobbies. You can gain alot for your rpg by consuming and creating media of various types.

When you spend time reading, you get ideas and inspiration for your game. You get to witness characters and see story structure. Story structure is important in rpgs and every genre has their own twists on structure. Additionally, you will get to read the tropes for the genre you play. If you are like me, you enjoy a variety of genres and wish to try different games. I find it worthwhile to try reading a variety of genres and material. It helps widen your breadth of knowledge to bring into a game.

Another media which helps with rpgs are movies and TV shows. You will get a different thing from a movie compared to a TV show. Most movies are done in 2 hours and you get a complete story. This gives you ideas on how to structure a one-shot or convention scenario. For TV series, as they usually have recurring characters, you get structure for doing campaigns which can either be episodic or with a continuing story through the campaign.

Writing is a great hobby which mixes well in rpgs. You get to develop characters for use in your games. You can details events which happened. You can even add to your setting with historical titbits. If you enjoy poetry, you can write songs, poems, or prophesies which add culture to your games. For contemporary games, you can delve into journalistic writing to help provide hooks.

Drawing and cartography are useful creative hobbies in rpgs. They can help provide handouts for the group. Other crafts can help you create stuff to give to your group as inspiration.

If you are a foodie, you can find meals which evokes cultures in your rpg setting. You’d be able to organize feasts for your group and get them in the proper atmosphere. Another hobby to help atmosphere is music. Listening to music can be very relaxing and inspire your games.

In conclusion, rpgs covers a wide area. Almost any hobby can be found some way to help your games, however minor.

What hobbies do you have? How does it help your games?

RPGaDay: Good characterisation

It is day 25 of RPGaDay, hosted by BrigadeCon and the question is: What makes for a good character?

RPGaDay 2016

In media like novels, film, tv shows, and other prepared performances, you get the ability to form a character which you control how it will be presented throughout the story. While working on the character, you will make changes to that character through the editing process. Once the product is complete, your character is set and thus it easier to make a good character. You don’t have such for a role-playing game.

In a rpg, you are performing and developing your character as you play. You can establish a basic framework of the character at the start which will change as you play. This is a good thing. Most RPGs are all about change. You have a set parameters of your character and you modify it as you play and/or you change the game environment by your decisions. With that in mind, a good character is one which helps to bring about this change.

Now, you don’t want all sorts of game. If you bring entropic change then you will have a chaotic mess in the end. While destructive action can be fun in one shots, you will find it difficult to sustain it in the long term play. The game Fiasco engages in fun destructive play as your characters makes poor life choices and events spiral out of control. The game is designed to being one-shots. Posthuman Pathways is another fun one-shot where you de-construct a character from have four distinct traits and you lose one. In my experience from Posthuman Pathways, you start with decent characters and end up with despicable alien characters. I have played a game where my character was a jerk at the start and ended up being a strangely decent character.

In long term play, you wish a character which builds to the story. A good character will wish to form relationships with other characters. You will want to form goals to accomplish over the immediate goal of survival. You character might wish to change the environment by building something or altering the status quo. A good character will have character development  which can be gaining power as most rpgs do it or personality development.

You can have an editing process in your rpgs. I do it in my game. If someone tries a character and a mechanical choice doesn’t work how they felt it should, we will change the character. For ex: Erica was playing Medrash, a dragonborn runepriest of Bahamut. The runepriest fits best for support characters and as Erica was playing Medrash, she wasn’t enjoying the mechanical role. She was trying to do stuff with Medrash which the game was fighter her. Erica is very enthusiastic player who enjoys actions and damaging stuff. She needed a character which encourages that. We talked about the core stuff which Erica liked to keep of Medrash. She wanted to stay a dragonborn and divinely attached to Bahamut. She wanted to stay in plate armour. This left her with paladin and blackguard. Due to her aggressive site, she chose blackguard. We remade her character with those rules and we describe Medrash as a paladin with rage issues.

Thus, a good character develops over time. You will starts with a rough concept and as you play, you will shape them. In the end, you will have a great character with stories to share with your group.

What do you do to help develop a good character?

RPGaDay: Gifting

Welcome to day 24 of RPGaDay, hosted by BrigadeCon. Today’s question: What is the game you are most likely to give to others as a gift?

RPGaDay 2016

My instinct for giving a game as a gift, especially a rpg, is to fit the game to the person. You have a wide selection of games available. As of today, on RPGGeek, there are 7,488 different rpgs in 73 genres. Thus, finding a game which a friend would enjoy is possible. So you should know the person’s tastes in either books, tv shows, movies, toys, or video games. With such knowledge, you can purchase a good gift.

For my best friend, Christine, she is a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While she was playing a campaign, Brenda and I bought her a copy of the rpg, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She enjoys the game and the subject matter.

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In the past, after playing a game which I only have a pdf copy, I gave my printed copy to another play. I’ve done this with Murderous Ghosts. The game is a great two player game of horror which plays under an hour. I’ve brought it at conventions of game events, played it someone and donated my copy to the other player with information where they can get their own pdf copy.

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A wonderful game which I wish was still in print so I can give to folks is Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. A great whimsical game by Daniel Solis which you can only get in PDF now. There is a sequel game, Do: Fate of the Flying Temple , which uses the wonderful Fate Accelerated system, which is available in print and pdf. I love the first game for it’s quick play (1-2 hours for a story) and you get to write a story of your adventure as you play.

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What games would you give as a gift? How would you do it?

RPGaDay: Tale of the cursed yellow die

Welcome to day 23 of RPGaDay, hosted by BrigadeCon and today’s question: Share one of your best ‘Worst Luck’ stories.

RPGaDay 2016

Most rpgs uses luck in some form or another. It can be rolling dice, playing cards, or drawing stones from a bag. With luck, you get folks who have a variety of superstition. This story is about my friend, Steve Maguire, who has great videos as Science Isn’t Scary. I suggest you watch them and then come back here.

Steve had a yellow d20 which constantly rolled badly for him. It was notorious for not rolling above a 5 for him. He never learn his lesson and used the die in several games. While at an Ottawa convention playing some Living Greyhawk, he got so frustrated with his yellow die that he threw it at his feet and it bounce across the hall. Luckily, it didn’t hit anyone but it rolled for most of the hall before stopping. One of our friends, Christine, was managing the convention administrative booth near the spot where the die stopped rolling. She checked the result and it was a 1, which in D&D is a bad result to get.

After that, he retired the die. After several months, Steve played with someone who was short on dice. Steve gave his yellow die to them  and followed up on it. Apparently, the new owner felt the die rolled decently for the first year. Afterwards, the die went pack to its poor rolling tricks. It looks like that die was truly cursed.

What stories of bad luck have you witnessed? Have you seen items which are cursed?

RPGaDay: Recurring random events

It is day 22 of RPGaDay, hosted by BrigadeCon, and the question is: What are some random events in your games that keep happening?

RPGaDay 2016
I can’t think of a random event which keeps occurring in my games. I enjoy tables of random stuff to get inspiration for games. I find them a useful tool when you have a block. From what I recall, I get different results when I repeatedly use a table.

One thing which I find important to use tables is to review the options. If there’s an element which you don’t want then you remove it. Personalize the table to fit your group and game. Once you have the table how you find acceptable then you roll and use whatever results the roll gives you. I use that approach because it practically eliminates fudging die rolls.

My philosophy in games is that dice are bad decision makers. If you roll the die and then fudge the roll then I question why you rolled the dice to begin with. If I want to roll the dice, I make sure than the group is fine with the various possible results. If we feel that a certain like a group of mobsters wouldn’t make sense to show up in the middle of the scene then we remove it from the table. This applies to effects like injuries, mental illnesses or even death.

How do you use random tables in your game? Any fun stories?

RPGaDay: Funny rulings

On day 21, we explore the funny side of rule interpretation for RPGaDay, hosted by BrigadeCon. Today’s question: What was the funniest misinterpretation of a game rule in your group?

RPGaDay 2016

I had to think about it in order to figure out a situations. When you play in silly fun ways, you get into plenty of ridiculous situations. I remember a game for April Fools where the adventurers had to get a vial of liquid evil before their enemies did. You wonder what liquid evil, right? Well, in the plane of ice, it can get so cold that even concepts freeze. I postulated a great evil was defeated there and its evil was frozen. An entrepreneur mined it and brought it to a planar in liquid vial. Over the years, it was sold, stolen, etc. until it wound up in this dungeon. Consuming the liquid will turn you evil and Force Of Evil Spellcasters (FOES) wanted to get in order to put in a town’s water supply as a recruitment plan.

During the game, one player who character had the vial in their hand decided to throw it onto the monsters they were fighting, an orc and two giant rats. The vial broke and the liquid gave those 3 months immense evil power and thus making them the most powerful evil beings in the setting. They left to go plot evil schemes. We ended that one shot special April Fools adventurer there. A ridiculous idea but not truly a misinterpretation of the rules.

I’ll broaden the category to all types of games. When Brenda, Hany, and I were learning Arkham Horror, we misinterpreted an essential rule which made our initial experience quite different than intended. Arkham Horror is a board game where you take the role of investigator trying to stop terrible beings from being summoned. It is one of those rpg in a box games. It is a game that lies in the grey area between board game and rpg.

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The rule we misinterpreted is what a player does on their turn. We thought that on their turn, a player executes all the phases.  We though they would upkeep, move, have an encounter, and then draw a mythos card. Afterwards, the next player would repeat the same phases. The game went fast. We would finish a about an hour. It was highly challenging and we found it challenging to close all the gates to win before the Ancient One gets summoned. We still enjoyed the game. It is only after playing several games and we packed up that we reread the round order rules and realised that everyone does each phase around the same time.

What funny situations happened in your games?